Cubs add righty Chatwood to rotation mix
Ex-Rockies righty signs 3-year, $38M deal, excited to pitch at Wrigley
CHICAGO -- When the Cubs looked at Tyler Chatwood's statistics, they considered both his numbers at Coors Field and on the road. The right-hander is definitely looking forward to calling somewhere else home.
The Cubs hope to have filled one of the holes in their rotation by signing the free-agent righty to a three-year, $38 million contract Thursday.
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"He's uber talented, a right-hander moving into his prime, who has great makeup and we think his best days are ahead of him," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "We're getting him into an environment where we think he can gain consistency with all of his pitches and play to his strengths more. We're excited to slot him into the rotation. He's a guy we've been after for a while."
• 5 reasons Chatwood could be steal for Cubs
The interest was mutual. Chatwood, who turns 28 this month, brought his family to Chicago during the Rockies' series in June at Wrigley Field. They liked the atmosphere at the ballpark as well as the city.
"We're fortunate enough now to have the chance to play here for three years, so that's pretty fun," Chatwood said.
He knows he'll appreciate not having to pitch at Coors Field. In 33 games, including 25 starts, Chatwood was 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA last season with the Rockies. He was 3-8 with a 6.01 ERA in 17 games (12 starts) in Denver, while going 5-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) on the road.
What will be the difference now?
"I can focus on making my pitches, I can work on it more consistently," Chatwood said. "I don't have to worry if [the pitches are] going to move or not going to move, of if I'm going to have to spin it different. I can just focus on making it more consistent and use my full arsenal rather than not be able to use everything."
Chatwood made four starts in 2014, then underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the '15 season. Since then, he is tied with Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals for second in the National League in road ERA the past two seasons with a 2.57 mark, trailing only the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and his 2.16 ERA on the road (minimum 10 starts).
"You have to take everything into account," Epstein said about evaluating Chatwood. "His curveball is a big pitch for him and it's a really tough pitch to throw with consistency at Coors. You try to scout him the best you can and project him in your environment with your ballpark, your defense, your infrastructure. It's all about what we expect to get the next three and perhaps plus years with Tyler, not what he's done in the past.
"We're excited. His stuff is top notch. He's a bright kid who can think his way through a game as well and is always looking for ways to get better."
A second-round Draft pick by the Angels in 2008, Chatwood was traded to the Rockies in November 2011 for catcher Chris Iannetta. The right-hander has a career 40-46 record with a 4.31 ERA in 130 games (113 starts).
The Cubs' primary goal this offseason is to find replacements for starters Jacob Arrieta and John Lackey, who became free agents shortly after the World Series ended.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
While some will dismiss Chatwood based on his lifetime 4.31 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, wise fantasy owners are aware that he posted a solid 3.18 ERA on the road (5.17 ERA at home) during his tenure with the Rockies. Having shown the ability to limit fly balls (career 24.9 percent fly-ball rate) and hard contact (career 28.7 percent hard-hit rate), the right-hander has the potential to serve as a viable streaming option in 12-team leagues next season despite unspectacular strikeout skills and control (lifetime 1.5 K/BB ratio).